UNC opponent preview: Maryland

As we count down to Late Night With Roy Williams (Oct. 12) and the beginning of basketball practice, let’s take a look at an opponent on North Carolina’s schedule ....

Opponent: Maryland

Dates: January 19 (in Chapel Hill, N.C.) and March 6 (in College Park, Md.)

Series results: The Tar Heels lead 118-57 (UNC won three times last season, including during the ACC tournament)

Maryland last season: 17-15, 6-10 in the ACC

Foe to know: Alex Len, 7-1 center, sophomore

After missing the first 10 games of last season, the big man from Ukraine showed flashes of his potential while averaging 6.0 points and 5.4 rebounds -- including a 14-point college debut against Albany during which he displayed an impressive combination of jump shots and slam dunks.

But he struggled with the language barrier, something that should be a lot easier this season; he even gave his first interviews last month.

“I was grinding all summer, just spending a lot of time at the gym with my teammates, improving my game,” Len told the Washington Post. “My English, too.”

Len said he has put on about 25 pounds during the offseason, which should add more strength to his game -- and make him harder to handle for the league’s frontcourts.

Tidbits: With ACC leading scorer Terrell Stoglin gone, the Terps will be looking for a more well-rounded offense. Sophomore Nick Faust (8.9 ppg) is Maryland’s leading returning scorer.

Previous schedule previews:

Follow Robbi Pickeral on Twitter at @bylinerp.